07899715085 or 07899713498 unison1@wirral.gov.uk

Coronavirus update 05.01.21

Dear Member

Hello again everyone. We hope you are all keeping safe and well, we know it’s been a really uncertain and difficult 24 hours and we are still working through the implications of the current lockdown restrictions for our members, we will have details in the coming days. Equally we will be highlighting some of the pertinent government guidance in our emails this week, but for now, here is the guidance in full https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home

Since the first lockdown Wirral Unison has fought, with some success, to improve conditions & safety for our members. As we go back into lockdown, we will continue that fight. We also recognise that many in our communities are unfairly impacted by the pandemic and the Govt's response. Alongside our community, we will call for improved resources & support for our children, for their parents, for our community.
We do not believe our members, or our community, should bear the cost of this pandemic.

Schools Update

Further to our email last night and following Boris Johnson’s statement, we have written to Wirral Council stating our position in relation to schools, please see information below.

Wirral Unison’s view is that nurseries should only remain open to children of critical workers and those who are deemed to be vulnerable. We do not believe that there is sound medical evidence to support the continued opening of nursery provision and believe this decision to be politically motivated.

Special schools:

We would expect that risk assessments which cover the setting, the children and the staff would be reviewed and updated in light of escalating transmission of the new variant, with appropriate consultation with TU’s. We would expect that whilst all children may meet the criteria for a school place by virtue of their additional needs, the requirement for them to take up this place should be determined by their Covid assessed EHCP, taking account of the risks posed by the virus to each child on an individual basis. We would expect that our reps and members were assured that these considerations had taken place before they support pupils on a rota basis.

Clinically vulnerable/ Clinically extremely vulnerable school support staff:

For the duration of the lockdown people who are clinically extremely vulnerable should be based at home and this provision should be extended to anyone living with someone who is clinically extremely vulnerable. The clinically vulnerable should be based at home whilst we are in the current lockdown and rates remain high. These positions have been reached taking account of the PM’s statement that schools are considered to be vectors of transmission.

Mainstream schools:

In line with government guidance primary and secondary schools should only be open to children of critical workers and those who are considered to be vulnerable. As with the first lockdown when schools were closed apart from to these children, the demographics of some schools may indicate a higher level of need for school places. In these circumstances we would expect to be consulted on the safety plans to ensure that our members are not exposed to unacceptably high levels of risk. We would expect that the risk assessments would identify the number of staff required to support the reduced numbers of children in attendance and that rota’s would be drawn up on this basis, with the principle that staff will be home based unless they are required to be in the school setting to support the children.

Regional Meeting for school support staff

UNISON North West will be holding a live Q&A school support staff meeting on Thursday 7th January at 6:00 pm.  The meeting will be streamed live on the UNISON North West Facebook page.

To attend/view the Q&A, simply head to www.facebook.com/UNISONNorthWest at 6:00 pm on Thursday 7th.  Members who do not have to have a Facebook account can watch the Q&A, however, you will need a Facebook account in order to comment/ask questions.

The event will have in attendance Cath Baggaley, Chair of UNISON’s Regional Committee, Jon Richards, National Secretary for Education, Pam Howard, Chair of UNISON’s National Schools Committee, and Glen Williams, UNISON’s Regional Convenor. If you wish to submit questions before the event, please can you forward to on to Keith Bradley, Lead for Schools in the North West – k.bradley@unison.co.uk no later than 12:00 noon on Thursday the 7th January.

UNISON’s position on public libraries
Today Unison at a national level have lobbied DCMS and Libraries Connected for public libraries in England to close completely with no exemptions for e.g. PC use and click and collect. The government’s national lockdown guidance states that:
“Libraries can also remain open to provide access to IT and digital services – for example for people who do not have it at home – and for click-and-collect services”
We’ve lobbied for complete closure as per first lockdown, to ensure our NHS is not overwhelmed and to keep library workers, users and our communities safe. We find ourselves in a new situation now with a new, variant that is 50 – 70 % more transmissible* We have made it clear that we believe local authorities must not be burdened with yet more local negotiations at this critical time with hospitals struggling and a programme of vaccination within reach.

At a local level, we will be approaching Wirral Council to seek their agreement to this position.

Wirral Evolutions

Wirral Unison have been in contact with management, and can share the following principles for operation. We have additionally asked that all staff who are clinically vulnerable should also be home based given the extremely high rates of transmission from the new variant. We would certainly suggest that anyone who is clinically vulnerable should request a review to their individual risk assessment and seek advice from Unison.

  • All staff who are identified as extremely clinically vulnerable (shielding group) have been sent home this morning
  • WE are contacting all parent/carers people they support to advise that they should adhere to the government guidance stay at home
  • WE will continue to offer a service to those people who cannot be supported at home
  • WE will offer outreach (health walks, shopping)
  • Staff will be required to attend work as only when needed and through a rota system
  • Staff who are not needed will be advised to stay home, where limited work will be provided

Save Europa Pools- Public Meeting  

Wirral Unison condemns the Council’s proposal to close Europa Pools. This is a vital facility that is essential for our children to  learn to swim, for our older people to keep fit and healthy and for many other sections of our community. If the Council implements its proposals, Birkenhead will be left without any swimming facilities.

We are hosting a public meeting this Thursday (7 January) at 6pm via Facebook, the meeting can be accessed here- facebook.com/events. Our Branch Secretary David Jones will be speaking, as will a speaker from Unite and hopefully speakers from local community groups. We also urge you to sign the petition launched by Wirral Metro Swimming Club, which you can do by following this link – www.change.org/save-europa-pools

That’s all for today everyone. As always, please do pass our updates on to colleagues and encourage them to join Unison if they haven’t already. Here’s the link to join up! JOIN UNISON

We’ll be back in touch soon with further updates.  

In solidarity!

Your Wirral Unison Team
Central email: unison1@wirral.gov.uk
Telephone: 07899713498 or 07899715085

Published on: January 6, 2021